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  • News in Brief

    Volcanic lightning forges tiny glass balls from airborne ash

    Lightning bolts that flash and clash high above erupting volcanoes can forge flying ash into glass, new research finds. The mechanism could explain the origins of odd microscopic glass beads found embedded in ash deposits, the researchers report online February 27 in Geology.A volcanic eruption can kick...
    03/03/2015 - 14:20 Earth, Climate
  • Letters to the Editor

    Water's unclear origins, shaky solutions to climate change and more reader feedback

    Water’s origin storyNew evidence suggests that comets may not have delivered water to Earth. Water detected in comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s hazy atmosphere isn’t a chemical match for Earth’s oceans, as Ashley Yeager reported in “Ocean water may not be from comets” (...
    02/25/2015 - 10:30 Earth, Planetary Science
  • News

    Steam bubbles carry gold and sulfur up from Earth’s depths

    Dense mixes of sulfur and metals such as gold and copper can catch a lift to the top of magma reservoirs on the undersides of rising steam bubbles, new research suggests.After heating capsules of materials commonly found in magma, researchers discovered heavy droplets of sulfur and metal stuck to the bottom of floating water vapor bubbles. The mechanism may explain the large amounts of sulfur and...
    02/23/2015 - 11:00 Earth
  • News

    Worst drought in a millennium predicted for central and southwest U.S.

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — Record-setting droughts are in the forecast for the central and southwestern United States, a new study comparing past and predicted drought conditions shows.Researchers from New York compared drought predictions for the second half of the 21st century with reconstructions of drought conditions dating back to the 11th century and found that the Central Plains and Southwest U.S...
    02/12/2015 - 14:39 Climate, Earth
  • Letters to the Editor

    Mineral hunting, mob math and more reader feedback

    A mineral by any other nameA rock from space helped researchers describe a common mineral found on Earth. In “A name for Earth’s most abundant mineral” (SN: 1/10/15, p. 4), Thomas Sumner explained that the form of magnesium iron silicate that makes up more...
    02/11/2015 - 08:00 Earth, Ecosystems, Numbers
  • Mystery Solved

    Raindrops kick up soil chemicals

    View the videoA raindrop doesn’t just go splat when it hits the ground. A fizz emanates from each drop, a new study published January 14 in Nature Communications reveals, transporting chemicals from the ground into the air. This mechanism may create the earthy aroma after a rainstorm.Using high-speed cameras on water...
    02/10/2015 - 14:00 Physics, Earth
  • News in Brief

    Ice ages boost production of new ocean crust

    Lowered sea levels during ice ages can increase the amount of magma bubbling up at mid-ocean ridges, researchers propose online February 5 in Science. The work suggests that long stretches of thick oceanic crust called abyssal hills, among the most common landforms on the planet, are the result of worldwide...
    02/05/2015 - 14:00 Earth, Climate
  • News

    Geologists discover tectonic plate’s slippery underbelly

    Using ricocheted vibrations from dynamite blasts, researchers have glimpsed a layer of gooey material sandwiched between the Pacific tectonic plate and the underlying mantle. If present beneath all plates, the layer of partially melted rock could help explain how tectonic plates slide around Earth’s surface so easily, the researchers ...
    02/04/2015 - 13:00 Earth
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Island on Fire’ recounts enormous 18th century eruption

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    01/28/2015 - 15:00 Earth, Science & Society
  • News

    Faulty thermometers exaggerated western U.S. mountain warming

    Observations of sharply rising high-elevation temperatures in the western United States were caused by faulty equipment, not climate change, new research suggests.From 1991 to 2012, the National Water and Climate Center’s Snow Telemetry network, or SNOTEL, reported a 1.16 degree Celsius per decade climb in minimum temperatures at high elevations throughout the mountainous American West....
    01/16/2015 - 12:56 Earth